What is Callanetics®?

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  • Written By: N.M. Shanley
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 19 August 2019
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Callanetics® is a method of exercise created by Callan Pinckney in the mid-1980s. Unlike other exercise fads that debuted at the same time, it is not an aerobic workout. Callanetics® uses a series of low-impact, fluid movements designed to increase muscle strength and flexibility.

People do not need any special equipment to practice Callanetics®, and it can easily be done at home. Fitness enthusiasts use only their own bodies to create tension and resistance and build muscle. Isometric and plyometric exercises make up the core of Callanetics®.

Isometric exercises involve squeezing the muscle. Muscles are not lengthened during isometrics. Making a fist and holding it for a few seconds is an example of isometric exercise. Lengthening a muscle and then shortening it very quickly is plyometric exercise. Bending down, standing up, and reaching the arms up into the air; then coming back down and lowering the arms quickly is a good illustration of plyometrics.

Callan Pickney created the first Callanetics® workout to try to correct her own physical problems and alleviate muscle pain. Pickney used her ballet experience to create the exercises that make up her strength-training methods. After experiencing positive results, Pickney began teaching her exercises to others in her apartment in the mid-1980s. Books and videos of the workouts soon followed.


Pickney’s first workout video called Callanetics® 10 Years Younger in 10 Hours was released in 1988. Updates to the workout and new videos followed throughout the 1990s. More recent workouts include Cardio Callanetics®, a hybrid cardio and strength training workout.

The Lotte Berk Method® is a similar low-impact workout. This method was created by German-born ballet dancer Lotte Berk. She began teaching her stretching and toning exercises on London in the 1950s.

American Lydia Bach trained with Berk in London. Bach then bought the rights to bring The Lotte Berk Method® to the United States in 1970. Although Berk died in 2003, videos and classes using her training exercises remain available due to Bach’s dedication to that exercise method. Berk's family members also still teach this method in Europe.

People who want a more strenuous cardiovascular workout may try aerobic workouts instead of Callanetics®. Similar to energetic dancing, aerobics involves more movement of the body, at much faster pace. Aerobics workouts can be done at home or in a fitness class.

To combine both cardiovascular and strength training in a single workout, interval training may be a good choice. Interval training involves short bursts of cardiovascular exercise followed by strength-training movements. Like other methods, interval workouts are offered through videos and live classes.


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